Turkey. The power struggle further raged between the secularist establishment, with its military base, and the moderate Islamist government and its liberal supporters. In February, the ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed a law that gave green light for women to wear headscarves at the country’s university. The opposition said that the ban on headscarves was a guarantee of the country’s secular foundation. Two opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Democratic Left Party (DSP), notified the legislative amendment to the Constitutional Court, demanding that the AKP be banned and 71 of its leading representatives, including both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah G邦l, be suspended from politics. The EU reacted with “concern”.
On July 14, 86 militants, politicians, journalists, lawyers and other persons were indicted for involvement in the Ergenekon ultranationalist conspiracy, “the deep state”, which was accused of forcibly trying to whip up a rebellion against the AKP government and force it to fall.. Among the crimes the network was prosecuted for was a murder of a judge in 2006 and a bombing attack against the secularist newspaper Cumh邦riyet’s editorial in Istanbul. In addition, the network is suspected of planning to murder Prime Minister Erdoğan and Nobel laureate in literature Orhan Pamuk. The “deep state” had long been a well-known concept in Turkey and was believed to have murdered a long line of intellectuals, including many Kurds in the 1990s, since the 1950s.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of TR in general and in geography as Turkey in particular.
Throughout the year, the government forces’ offensive against the Kurdish PKK guerrillas continued. The military carried out regular air strikes against PKK bases in the northern, Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq. On February 21-29, 10,000 Turkish soldiers were dispatched to Iraqi ground, but were withdrawn following criticism from Iraq and the United States.
Parliament decided on 30 April to amend the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Previously, it had been criminal to “insult the Turkish”, now it became criminal to “insult the Turkish nation”. Human rights organizations thought the change was insufficient. The publisher Ragip Zarakolu was sentenced June 17 to fines for violating the law with its new wording.
Approach to the EU was slow, but in June two new negotiating chapters (on commercial and intellectual property rights) were launched. Smoking was banned on May 19 in all public buildings, on all public transport and all sports facilities.
In January 2002, Turkish women regained the right to property and succession. Rights that had been eliminated by Atatürk’s death.
At the November parliamentary elections, the Muslims gathered in the Justice and Development Party’s 34.3% of the vote and 365 of the Parliament’s 550 seats. In second place, the People’s Republican Party got 19.4% of the vote. Although the Justice Party leader, Erdogan, was barred from holding the 2002 election, his party in its election campaign promised to remove the secular principles from the constitution. Abdullah Gul of the party was instead appointed prime minister, and only in March 2003 was able to hand over this post to Erdogan, as a number of political obstacles were cleared.
Erdogan’s popularity was based on his sacrificial work that had paved the way for the university and the mayor post in Istanbul, even though he was descended from a poor family. Upon his accession, he stated that he would orient his political work towards securing Turkey’s accession to the EU, by adapting its legislation to EU requirements. With the Justice Party assuming power, NATO gained its first member state with a Muslim government.
The year before, consumer prices in the country had risen 45% and 50% of government spending was tied to paying interest and repayments on the country’s foreign debt. It therefore had to raise a loan in the IMF which was granted on the condition of further public savings and tax increases.
The same month as Erdogan took over the prime minister’s post, Parliament decided not to allow the United States to use its bases in Turkey for its impending war on Iraq. However, Turkey allowed the United States to use its airspace for war overflight.
In July 2003, Parliament passed laws on the rights of the Kurds and abolished the death penalty. At the same time, Abdullah Öcalan’s death sentence was automatically converted to life imprisonment. Still, in September, the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK – the successor to the PKK) decided to suspend the unilateral ceasefire that had been in effect since 2001. This happened on the grounds that the security forces did not follow the newly enacted legislation.
In November, a car bomb attack in front of a Jewish synagogue in Istanbul cost 25 lives, and over 200 were injured. Two days later, another 25 were killed by two coordinated assaults against a British bank and the British Consulate in Istanbul.
In October 2004, the European Commission was to take a final decision on the opening of accession negotiations in the EU with Turkey. This was decided at the EU summit in Copenhagen in December 2002. In February, the Commission submitted a project to the Government of Ankara to ensure more effective protection of Kurds’ rights. This was based on a report by Amnesty International that mentioned 30,000 murders, thousands of disappearances, massive village destruction, torture, misery in prisons, rape of female prisoners, etc., all carried out by Turkish security forces and the military.
At the same time, the EU commission called on the Turkish government to ratify the Rome Statutes, thereby joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), limiting the number of military personnel in the National Security Council who have a superior function over other state institutions, and finally dissolving the ‘special security tribunals’ “Because of their constant violations of human rights. At the same time, the Commission called on the government to start negotiations to ensure compensation for the attacks Turkey has committed against Greek Cypriots in Cyprus.
In April 2004, the inhabitants of Cyprus conducted a parallel double vote on reunification and on accession to the EU. In both groups there was agreement on accession in the EU, but the Greek Cypriots voted against reunification, while the Turkish Cypriots voted. However, as a result of the accession negotiations between Cyprus and the EU, the paradoxical consequence was that the Greek-Cypriot part was admitted, while the Turkish-Cypriot northern part of the country remained isolated. The EU’s attitude was strongly critical of the Greek Cypriots ‘No’ for reunification, and the EU therefore decided to provide comprehensive development assistance to Northern Cyprus, which was now outside the EU due to Greek resistance.
President Erdoğan expresses Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the country’s fierce fighting against Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijani borders but is controlled by Armenia. Turkey is reported to have recruited Syrian jihadists as mercenaries and sent Turkish-made drones to Azerbaijan, but at the same time is believed to want to avoid too sharp antagonisms with Armenia, as it could drag Russia into the course of events. The conflict triggers anti-Armenian demonstrations in Turkish cities, including Istanbul and Konya. Turkish authorities promise to protect ethnic Armenians and Armenian institutions, including churches.
Research vessels leave the eastern Mediterranean
The research vessel Oruç Reis, which was on disputed waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, returns to Turkey (see 10 August). Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis is pleased that the Turkish government is not extending the mandate and sees it as a first positive step in reducing tensions between the two countries. A first round of talks between delegations from Greece and Turkey has been held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The leaders of seven EU Mediterranean countries (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Greece and Cyprus) also met recently on the French island of Corsica, where they agreed to advocate EU sanctions against Turkey for its actions in the Mediterranean. . In October, the vessel will be sent out to sea once again, and will then be towed back to port on 30 November.
Convicted of the Khashoggi murder may live
Five people sentenced to death for the murder of Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 have their Saudi death sentences commuted to imprisonment. With the support of a formal pardon from Khashoggi’s children, which was announced in May, they will instead receive 20 years in prison. In what are described as final sentences, three defendants receive simultaneously long prison sentences. No names of the convicts are published. Khashoggi was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his remains have never been found (see mainly October 2, 2018 and November 15, 2018). Turkey has released intelligence indicating that Khashoggi was also dismembered by a murder command sent from Saudi Arabia. From many quarters, including a special UN rapporteur, demands have been made that it be investigated whether the Saudi Crown Prince gave orders for the murder.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Turkey in 2008 was 72,326,877, ranking number 18 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.270% yearly, and the population density was 93.9763 people per km2.